There is a study for Le Goúter in a sketchbook made c.1869, entitled Gourmande. This sketchbook provided many of the drawings that inspired Tissot’s pictures dated 1869, almost all of which depict fashionable contemporary Parisian ladies in various decorative settings; ice-skating in Les patineuses, admiring a bamboo birdcage in Jeunes femmes regardant des objects japonais or dreaming in lazy langour in Reverie and Mélancolie. Tissot excelled in depicting the contrasting textures of fabrics and surfaces in his paintings but his knowledge of fashion added a glamorous sophistication. He had grown up surrounded by elegantly dressed women as his mother and aunt owned a millinery company in Nantes and his father had been a linen merchant. His interest in female dress is exemplified by the finery of the costume worn by the beautiful model in Le Goúter, who appears to have just returned from a promenade dressed in her cape trimmed with black mink fur. She poses for a moment for a glass of claret and a morsel of fruit, but looks up as though interrupted with an expression of greeting. The setting is the artists’ opulent studio house at 64 avenue de l'Impératrice (later renamed avenue duBois de Boulogne and now avenue Foch) and the sitter is believed to have been Emma Dobigny, a professional model who was a favourite with Tissot’s friend Degas. The flower arrangement of corn and poppies is suggestive of ripe harvests and fecund plentifulness.
Although Tissot would perhaps not now be described as an Impressionist painter, it is interesting to note the close relationships he had with many of the main artists of the group in Paris. Degas was a close friend in Paris and in 1874 he invited Tissot to take part in one of the most important exhibitions of the later nineteenth century, the first exhibition of the work of the Impressionists. Degas wrote to his friend; 'Look here, my dear Tissot, no hesitations, no escape. You positively must exhibit at The Boulevard. It will do you good... and us too.' However, by this time Tissot's career in London was expanding and perhaps fearing that this could be jeopardised by associations with the renegade French artists, he decided not to submit a picture to the exhibition.
The Franco-Prussian war forced Tissot to leave Paris for London in 1873 but he retained his studio in Paris for the rest of his life. Both in Paris and in London Tissot surrounded himself with a salon of painters, writers and influential men and women and his acute acumen for business and flair for self-publicity helped him to become one of the most notable artists of his generation. He loved city life and sought to reflect the events and atmosphere of the higher echelon social scene that he rapidly became an important member of. In London he eventually adopted the anglicised name 'James', perhaps to attract British patrons, which is indicative of his enthusiasm for self-promotion. The painter Louise Jopling recalled Tissot as 'a charming man, very handsome, extra-ordinarily like the Duke of Teck... always well groomed , and had nothing of artistic carelessness either in his dress or demeanour.' It was noted that he kept a beautifully manicured garden and pristine studio with iced champagne always available in order to impress his patrons.
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